by Jodie Renner, editor & author
Savvy indie authors are quickly discovering the power of increasing book sales and visibility by collaborating with other authors in various ways. Here are four different avenues to explore that all work surprisingly well.
1. Create or join a Facebook group "event."
Not long ago, a complete stranger contacted me to ask if I’d like to add my writing guide Fire up Your Fiction (which, until recently, was titled Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power) to a group promo he had planned to put 15 books, all related to writing, publishing, and promoting books, on sale for 99 cents each for one day.
I was flattered, and after checking out the organizer and the other books on the list, was eager to jump in, especially since I'd just changed the title of the book and it has won several honors recently.
Bryan Cohen turned out to be not only a nice person, but a creative, skilled and enthusiastic organizer, with lots of great promo ideas that really worked well. He created a Facebook page for the event as well as a page on his website, and enlisted us all to help promote it on our blogs and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. He asked us for possible giveaways and offered attendees/participants a chance to win prizes for sharing the event on Facebook and Twitter.
As a result of this great promo on February 28, which Bryan named "March to a Bestseller," all 15 participants had a significant increase in book sales, ratings on Amazon, and visibility. For a few hours of responding to readers on the event page on Facebook (my “shift”) and promoting the event on my blog and in social media, my sales for Fire up Your Fiction increased that day by about 20 times the normal daily average.
As well, the Amazon rating for the book rose to #1 in “writing skills” and #4 in two other categories and stayed there for a few days. And because the title was now at the top of the first page on Amazon, it was immediately visible to new readers doing a search for writing guides. which boosted sales to people who didn't know about the promo.
All in all, by participating in this group promo, besides increased sales, I gained a lot of new readers who hadn’t heard of my books before, with very little effort and no expense. And as a side benefit, my sales were also up on my other book, Writing a Killer Thriller, and more people signed up for my newsletter and blog. I received the benefit of exposure to new readers that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve on my own. And conversely, through my updates to 4,000 Facebook friends, my tweets to 1,300 Twitter followers, and my blog post on the event, I helped others in the group reach new readers and increase their book sales and exposure.
2. Join with other similar authors to create a boxed e-book set.
For a brilliant, highly successful example of the power of group promos, recently 12 mystery/thriller writers (Michele Scott, JF Penn, J Carson Black, Joshua Graham, Allan Leverone, Vincent Zandri, Carol Davis Luce, Diane Capri, Cheryl Bradshaw, M A Comley, Aaron Patterson & Ellie Ann, and Linda Prather) got together to combine 10 full-length novels and 2 long novellas into a “boxed” e-book set they’ve called Deadly Dozen, and priced it on Amazon-Kindle at only 99 cents -- for all 12 e-books combined!
The authors obviously aren’t doing this for immediate big bucks in royalty income – at .99 per sale, with 35% to the authors, that makes about 35 cents divided by 12 = less than 4 cents per author per sale! And I can only imagine the income tax nightmare! (Or maybe they’ve got that all figured out.) But each author is gaining significant visibility and recognition for their name and their title, and I’m sure they’re also all seeing increased sales in their other books.
This group did some clever, very effective advance publicity to arouse curiosity and anticipation, and their e-book set was then published on Feb. 12. By March 12, just one month later, it had reached the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists! As of March 15, it’s ranked #24 of all Kindle books on Amazon.com, #2 in Kindle mysteries, and #5 in Kindle thrillers.
3. Explore other ways to gain recognition.
Some other great ways to get your name and book(s) out there are by writing interesting guest blog posts -- be sure to offer some kind of value to the readers -- Q&A interviews on blogs or in magazines, and presenting to writers' groups. In each case, other people will also promote your post or topic for you.
For example, someone else I didn’t know and hadn’t heard of (till then) recently contacted me about presenting a webinar at a virtual conference. This entailed quite a learning curve for me, as I’d never presented a webinar, and in fact have only viewed a few. In addition, they were suggesting using PowerPoint (with me talking in the corner), which I’ve never used before. We quickly agreed on a topic I’m very familiar with from my editing and writing, “Spark up Your Stories – Adding Tension, Suspense, & Intrigue.” That part was a breeze, as I drew material from my book, Writing a Killer Thriller and my editing of thrillers, but the technological side of it all has been a real learning curve, starting with figuring out what equipment to purchase (a webcam – my PC doesn’t have one – and a headset with a microphone).
But now that I’ve got the techie stuff (almost) down and the Cyber Symposium for Editors & Writers is advertised, I will again get to benefit from the promotion efforts of everyone else involved with the virtual conference. So my own webinar could easily attract many participants from well outside my normal social media circles.
The take-away for me from both of my recent group events is to be open to people who contact me, even if I’ve never heard of them before, and don’t shy away from stepping outside your comfort zone!
4. Use the spin-off from book contests.
Finally, last week I found out that my book Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles) is a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, with the final winners to be announced June 27 at the annual American Library Association Conference. So ForeWord Reviews is now doing publicity for this book, and in addition, I’ve signed up to have this book displayed in their booth at the ALA conference in Las Vegas. This means more promotion of my book by others – and in this case by a well-respected, prestigious organization!
Other book awards Fire up Your Fiction has received (Silver medal in the FAPA President's Book Awards, Honorable Mention from Writer's Digest) have also increased its exposure and sales. And it looks like I'm a finalist in another book contest: IndieReader.com just posted a great review of Fire up Your Fiction on the first page of their website!
So indie authors, once you’ve written the best book you can and it's edited, revised and polished, with a professional-looking cover, be sure to develop a good social network and a positive, friendly presence on social media – you never know what opportunities might come your way out of the blue! And be open to them! Chance favors the prepared mind!
And if you think it's ready, it wouldn't hurt to enter it in a book contest or two.
Do you have any other great group promo ideas to tell us about? Anything that's worked for you or others? Share it in the comments below!
Jodie Renner has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), which has been awarded two book honors and is a finalist for two more. Look for the third book in the series, Captivate Your Readers, out in mid to late 2014. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her other blogs, The Kill Zone and Resources for Writers, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And sign up for her newsletter.